May 08, 2017
It will soon be time to pack up my classroom if you count 18 more school days as soon. I do! Over the summer, everything in my classroom is moved out into the hallway because they strip and wax our classroom floors. This means everything in the room needs to be boxed or stored. It still has me thinking about how long it takes to pack my classroom each year. I thought I would pass on some ideas that have worked for me. Some tips are for packing the room with an eye towards preparing ahead for September. If you are an experienced teacher, I am sure you know most or all of these tips. How helpful they are will also depend on how packed up your room needs to be at the end of the year. I envy those teachers that don't have to box up every little thing! This year we return the first week of August-ugh!
So, in no particular order, here are ten tips for packing up your classroom:
1. Before you pack up anything, take a picture of your room from different angles. Each year, I either draw a map or take pictures of my room and staple it to my bulletin board. I leave a nice note for the custodians asking them to please put my furniture back according to the map/pictures if they can. I then kindly thank them and tell them I hope they have a great summer. In the past fourteen years, I think only once has my room not been put back in perfect order. I would also suggest taking pictures of the different areas in your room so that you can see how you had it organized. Maybe I'm just getting old, but there have been many times where I think, "How in the world did this fit in there?" Having pictures helps!
2. Put all your desk things in one box labeled "DESK or OPEN FIRST." It makes putting your desk back together much easier and is really the first thing you should do when you get back. I know before I even walk in my classroom, there are a million and one papers waiting for me in the office. When I set up my desk first, I have a place to put all those papers. I also always make sure I put a dollar store box opener in this box. Then when I come back to set up for September, I am not scrambling to find something to open all my supply boxes that were delivered over the summer.
3. Copy all your first week papers before you leave for the summer. It's really nice to have those back-to-school activities ready to go. It's even nicer to not have to fight for time at the copier as all the other teachers are copying right before school starts. Then, store them in a file you know you will find in August! A couple of times I have completely forgotten I did this at the end of the year and recopied it all again in September. Yeah, not so much of a time saver that way! Now, I stick a note in my "DESK" box to remind me.
6. I used to shelve my textbooks by subject. I don’t have a class set but copies of each grade levels math text. I make sure all the copies we lent out are back. All the math books on the shelf, then all the science books, all the social studies books and so on. I also make sure of any material lent out come back for next year.
7. Organize your class library before you leave. Even though this is a job in my classroom, our class library does get out of order to some degree. This is a great activity for your friends at the end of the year. I take all the baskets out and we put them on their desks. Each friend has to make sure the books in the baskets match the genre or guided reading level before they can put it back on the shelf. While they do this, I have them keep an index card and write down any titles they haven't read yet but would like to. It organizes my library, and it gives my friends a head start on some summer reading suggestions.
8. If you didn't use it this year, seriously consider getting rid of it or passing it on to another teacher. I am so guilty of not doing this, but have gotten better about it the past few years. I had things like odd math manipulatives I never used, some weird writing paper that wasn't good for my friends, and a bunch of classroom decoration that I just never used or used at a younger grade level. Since I couldn't stand throwing out a lot of it, I put it in the teachers' lounge on a table with a sign that said, "FREE!" It was all gone within the day! Less clutter for me and hopefully helpful to someone else.
9. Painter's Tape is your friend! We have to label all the furniture in our room. For years I used regular masking tape which just seemed to bake on over the summer and was a monster to take off. I've started using that blue painter's tape, and it's been great. I just put a strip on any furniture that needs to be labeled and use a Sharpie to write my name and room number on it. Come August, it just peels right off with no sticky residue.
10. Label everything. You may think you will, but you won’t. Face it, the chances of you remembering what is in each box by the time you head back to school are slim to none if you do not label what is inside. Write down every single thing that goes in each container and you will find that it is not only easier to set up your classroom in the fall, it will be easier to keep it organized throughout the year and find it next spring. Choose sturdy labels that will not fall off in storage.
11. Enlist your students to help clean. As excited as you are about the last day of school, your students are about ten times more excited. They can hardly stay in their seats and concentrate. Focus that energy and turn it into something productive. Give students organizing, packing, and cleaning tasks around the room. Have them weed out useless pieces of crayons, empty glue sticks, and dried-out markers. Assign them to the classroom library where they check to make sure all of the books are in the correct bins. Let them wipe off the desks and chairs with sanitizing wipes. The classroom was theirs for an entire year too and it teaches them a valuable lesson about taking care of their space until the very end.
You have worked so hard this year to make learning fun, meet standards, complete all of the paperwork, and maintain your enthusiasm. Do not get overwhelmed with thoughts of cleaning up your classroom. When you have a plan, anything can be accomplished. Have a great summer!
Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I'm Ms. Whiteley. I teach in the beautiful Mile High state--Colorado. This is my 13th year teaching in an rural K-6 Elementary school as a Exceptional Needs Teachers. As Exceptional Needs National Board Certified Teacher, I believe that ALL students can learn and be successful. When I'm not in school, I love to take my two Italian Greyhounds hiking 14ers and reaching for the stars. Thanks for Hopping By.
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